The McKell Library has in its database over 43,000 entries comprised of 17,000 books, 20,000 photographs, and 11,000 archival documents.
The core of the book collection consists of gifts from Colonel David McCandless McKell. These gifts started in 1940 and continued for twenty-two years. After his death in 1962, his family donated his personal rare book collection to the Society. The library subjects range the entire Dewey Decimal System. The 19th century is the most heavily represented period, but the time span extends from the 12th to the 21st century.
The archives special manuscript collections give detailed descriptions of people and events during the War of 1812 and the Civil War, as well as life in early Chillicothe. In the archives are additional items pertaining to people and life in Chillicothe, Ross County, and Ohio, including family Bibles, ledgers, scrapbooks, diaries, military records, maps, etc. Early newspapers in print and on microfilm are also available. Early Ohio imprints number almost two hundred.
The photo archives contain both paper and digital photographs, donated by individuals who wish to preserve images of local scenes, people, events, public institutions, houses, businesses, etc., for future generations. Current images are gladly accepted, since they will be “historic” one day, as well as digital images for those who want to keep original photos. Also included in the photo archives are postcards, photo albums, slides, negatives, stereographs, and images made by early processes, such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes.
The McKell Library catalog is available online. Selected items, such as the McKell rare book collection, can be seen by appointment only. There is access to a copier and microfilm reader (sorry, no printer) in the library reading room. Research requests by U.S. mail, email, or telephone are welcome. Please see the library policy governing its usage and fees for copies at the bottom of this page.